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James Murdoch Slams Climate Denial In Murdoch Media Outlets

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

As its global media empire ignores devastating bushfires in Australia, the Murdoch family has come under fire from an insider critic: Rupert’s son James. A spokesperson for James and his wife Kathryn expressed to The Daily Beast “their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage” of issues related to climate change. The couple, who have previously made their knowledge of the climate crisis public and committed millions of dollars to fight it, noted they are “particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence” that increased temperatures have contributed to the severity of the fires. The Murdochs’ News Corp. accounts for 60 percent of daily newspaper sales in Australia, where the family first began building its massive media conglomerate decades ago.

The epidemic of climate denial at Fox News and News Corp. outlets is a global problem. Personalities on their payroll across the world have promoted dangerous conspiracy theories and false punditry obfuscating the role of climate change in the devastating bushfires.

Two weeks into the new year, Fox News has already advanced anti-science talking points multiple times. On the January 13 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld blamed the media for the Australian wildfires, saying reporters are “chasing memes instead of actually fact-checking” and said they should instead “be questioning why there are so many arsonists.” The role of arsonists in the Australian bushfires has been greatly exaggerated and, according to climate expert Will Steffen, “The evidence is overwhelming that climate change is playing a prominent role” in the bushfires.

The Daily Beast’s story on James and Kathryn Murdoch’s public criticisms of News Corp. and Fox News’ climate denial noted that a regular guest on Fox host Laura Ingraham’s prime-time show has also hyped the false arson story. On January 7, Fox’s Sean Hannity also promoted disinformation on the role of arsonists in spreading the bushfires. Fox Nation’s Tomi Lahren claimed, “The fact of the matter is this: Australia has an arson problem you can’t pin on global warming, climate change, or whatever title you’re giving your environmental boogeyman these days.”

Even though 2020 just started, Fox News personalities are already working overtime to poison the climate change discourse in media this year. Fox’s Mark Levin yelled that “climate change is BS” and politicians who rightly recognize the threat “are praying to idols” because “you never heard about climate change 10 years ago” (this is false). On January 10, Ingraham bizarrely dismissed the problem of receding glaciers, saying, “The glaciers in the Rocky Mountains receded, which is why we have the Rocky Mountains.” In response, regular guest Raymond Arroyo said, “It’s called nature. It happens.”

Fox host Mark Levin also has been screaming about climate change:

Murdoch-owned media properties have promoted climate denial well beyond Fox News, and his Australian media empire has turned a blind eye to the climate crisis. The family’s national newspaper The Australian has hyped the story about the role of arsonists in spreading the bushfires. Conservative pundits on Sky News Australia have also used the ongoing fire season to push climate misinformation and denial, including Chris KennyPeta Credlin, and habitual climate denier Andrew Bolt. In the past, newspapers owned by News Corp. have been criticized for their role in spreading climate denial.

James Murdoch remains financially and legally involved in both News Corp., where he sits on the board of directors, and the Fox Corporation, the parent company of Fox News. (His father reportedly “had made sure that none of his children would be able to sell their voting shares to an outsider”  after he tried to cash out in 2018 following 21st Century Fox’s merger with Disney and a massive restructuring of assets.) His criticisms are just the latest installment of a decades-long power struggle within the family to shape the media empire’s political influence according to each man’s ideological vision. But because James was effectively forced out of the business after the Disney merger, he’s been relegated to lobbing criticisms from the sidelines as Rupert and rumored climate denier Lachlan Murdoch hold the reins.

Trump Tweets Islamophobic Images of Pelosi And Schumer

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

On Monday, President Donald Trump retweeted an anti-Islam post that depicted House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wearing hijab and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wearing Iranian-style headwear. The depiction, which also depicted an Iranian flag, was meant to defame Pelosi and Schumer as sympathetic to the Shiite fundamentalist government in Iran — and White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is defending Trump’s retweet.

On Twitter, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins reported, “Wow. Asked why Trump retweeted a photoshopped image of Schumer & Pelosi wearing a turban & head scarf w/ Iranian flag, Stephanie Grisham attempts to explain by saying he was ‘making clear’ Democrats are ‘parroting Iranian talking points & almost taking the side of terrorists.’”

Many Democrats have been critical of the January 3 killing of Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani, arguing that it will add to the instability in the Middle East. And Trumpistas have been conflating opposition to the killing with sympathy for the Iranian regime.

Susan Rice, former national security adviser under President Barack Obama, has been highly critical of the killing of Soleimani — arguing that the killing has forced the U.S. to halt its anti-terrorist campaign against ISIS (Islamic State, Iraq and Syria) in Iraq.

Hend Amry, a Libyan-American writer, lambasted the anti-Islam depiction that Trump retweeted, writing, “This absolutely must be condemned by congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.”

Ryan J. Suto, policy counsel for for the Arab American Institute, tweeted, “Trump is again using anti-Muslim and anti-Iranian sentiment to attack Democrats…. This isn’t surprising, and it isn’t new. But we still need to call it wrong every time it happens.”

How Justice Ginsburg Plans To Check Court’s Right-Wing Majority

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

When President Bill Clinton nominated Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993, the nation’s highest judicial body wasn’t as hard-right as it is now — although President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush had clearly made the High Court more conservative than it was in the days of the late Chief Justice Earl Warren. The U.S. Supreme Court has moved more and more to the right since the Clinton years, and a January 9 article by CNN legal analyst Joan Biskupic examines Ginsburg’s influence on what is now the Court’s minority wing.

Although Ginsburg is part of the Court’s “liberal minority,” Biskupic explains, the 86-year-old Brooklyn native “has a way of steering the debate on a case.” Ginsburg “regularly asks whether the Supreme Court should even decide the legal issue before it,” Biskupic notes —and “by framing the debate in this way, Ginsburg could limit the five conservative justices from setting new precedent over the dissent of the Court’s four liberals,” according to CNN’s legal analyst.

In a January 7 interview, Ginsburg told CNN, “It’s just instinctive to me: procedure is supposed to serve the people that law exists to serve.”

A major shift occurred on the Supreme Court in 2018, when Justice Anthony Kennedy retired and was replaced by Justice Brett Kavanaugh. While Kennedy, nominated by President Ronald Reagan in 1987, was a right-wing libertarian and a fiscal conservative, he tended to side with Ginsburg on social issues like same-sex marriage and abortion — whereas Kavanaugh is a hardline social conservative along the lines of Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. And with Kavanaugh now on the Court, Ginsburg has even less help when it comes to pushing back against the Court’s socially conservative justices.

“With the 2018 retirement of centrist conservative Justice Anthony Kennedy, succeeded by Brett Kavanaugh, the High Court is positioned for more conservative rulings and reversal of precedents from earlier eras,” Biskupic explains. “Over the past year, liberal justices have emphasized at arguments and in opinions the value of past milestones and stability in the law.”

In a 2013 interview, Scalia made it clear that even though he usually disagreed with Ginsburg, he respected her intellect—asserting, “She has done more to shape the law in this field than any other justice on this Court. She will take a lawyer who is making a ridiculous argument and just shake him like a dog with a bone.”

Ginsburg, during her CNN interview earlier this week, said of Scalia, “I wish he had listened to me more often.”

In 2019, America Saw The Human Cost Of Fox News’ Nativism

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

On August 3, a gunman entered a Walmart in El Paso, Texas, and murdered 22 people and injured 26 more. In addition to telling police that he drove from a Dallas suburb with the intention of targeting “Mexicans,” the shooter allegedly left a manifesto spelling out his rationale for carrying out the attack — which turned out to be virtually identical to anti-immigrant talking points heard nightly on Fox News.

The shooter’s major ideological influence was the “great replacement” theory: the idea that sinister left-wing forces are bringing Mexicans and other immigrants to the United States to replace white people. We saw that rhetoric on Fox and other conservative media time and time again both before and after the shooting. It was no secret that it was and is a white nationalist conspiracy theory.

Here’s a sampling of Fox’s nativist rhetoric just from this year, before and after the shooting:

Nothing on Fox News changed after El Paso, just as nothing changed in 2018 after another right-wing conspiracy theory inspired a synagogue shooter in Pittsburgh.

The “great replacement” rhetoric is still there. Just days after the shooting, Tucker Carlson declared the notion that white supremacy is a real problem in the U.S. is a “hoax.” The network went out of its way to blame the shooting on video games because, from the Murdochs on down, the network pushes white nationalism to serve President Donald Trump’s agenda. Just look at how the network buried the story of top Trump adviser Stephen Miller’s racist emails.

Anyhow, here’s a list of top Fox News advertisers.